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HR outsourcing in small and medium-sized enterprises: Exploring the role of human resource intermediaries
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Work and Working Life. Linköping University, HELIX Competence Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0041-9624
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Work and Working Life. Linköping University, HELIX Competence Centre.
2018 (English)In: Personnel review, ISSN 0048-3486, E-ISSN 1758-6933, Vol. 47, no 5, p. 1008-1023Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly outsourcing human resource (HR) activities to outside labour market intermediaries. In this paper, the focus is on a specific type of labour market intermediary, the HR intermediary (HRI). The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss SME outsourcing of HR services to membership-based HRIs, and potential problems and benefits that may arise in this process.

Design/methodology/approach

The empirical foundation comprises case studies of three Swedish HRIs and 12 of their SME clients. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews and a document study.

Findings

The findings show that social aspects such as trust, shared values, communication and commitment are crucial characteristics of the cooperation between HRIs and SMEs. These social aspects are a result of the owner/membership structure, and a distinguishing feature of the studied HRIs in comparison to other types of labour market intermediaries.

Research limitations/implications

The results of the study underline the need for increased research related to the intermediary concept and its meanings in different contexts. There is also a need for more empirical research on HRIs, e.g. comparisons between different types of HRIs, and studies of the emergence of virtual intermediaries. Future studies should focus on the role of LMIs and HRIs in regional development processes.

Practical implications

Companies that interact with HRIs should reflect on the different pros and cons that this cooperation may result in, both in the short term and in the longer term.

Originality/value

The study provides an enhanced understanding regarding the relations between SMEs and HRIs, based on the two broad types of SMEs (with low/high internal HR skills) and two types of HRIs (with short/long-term orientation).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2018. Vol. 47, no 5, p. 1008-1023
Keywords [en]
Qualitative, Small to medium size enterprises (SME), HR outsourcing, HR activities, Human resource intermediaries, Labour market intermediaries
National Category
Pedagogy Work Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-145532DOI: 10.1108/PR-03-2017-0066ISI: 000442855500003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-145532DiVA, id: diva2:1187510
Note

Funding agencies:This work was supported by VINNOVA (The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems).

Available from: 2018-03-05 Created: 2018-03-05 Last updated: 2018-09-21Bibliographically approved

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